To the Best of Our Knowledge

TTBOOK began as an audio magazine of ideas - two hours of smart, entertaining radio for people with curious minds. It's sort of journalistic (because some of us are, or used to be, journalists), but it's never about the President's speech to the U.N., weapons inspections in Iraq, or yesterday's stock market disaster. It's the kind of show that would spend an hour on the future of capitalism, or on the roots of Islamic fundamentalism. It might also spend an hour on hair. Or salt. Or pirates, road trips, psychic phenomena, house cleaning, animal intelligence, high energy physics, or how to say you're sorry. (You'll find all those shows in our archives.) It's the kind of show where someone might mention Charlotte Bronte or Anthony Trollope in one segment, U2 or They Might Be Giants in another.


Sunday 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM on WUSF 89.7

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Anne Strainchamps

Anne Strainchamps is the host of TTBOOK. She co-founded the show, along with Steve Paulson and Jim Fleming, and has been a featured interviewer on the program for more than a decade. She has worked in public broadcasting at WAMU in Washington, DC, and at NPR. She has been a reporter, producer, news director, live talk show host, a food and wine columnist, and a chocolatier.

From To The Best of Our Knowledge

  • The Secret Language of Trees [Rebroadcast]
    <p>Using a complex network of chemical signals, trees talk to each other and form alliances with fellow trees, even other species. In fact, whole forests exist as a kind of superorganism. And some trees are incredibly old. Did you know a single bristlecone pine can live up to 6,000 years? And the root mass of aspens might live 100,000 years? We explore the science and history of trees and talk with Richard Powers about his epic novel "The Overstory."</p> <p><strong>Guests:</strong></p> <p><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Mark Hirsch</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Richard Powers</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Suzanne Simard</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Amos Clifford</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Daegan Miller</a></p>
  • Giving Is Complicated
    <p>Even the most welcome gift can spark guilt, resentment, obligation or vulnerability. We can be inspired by the generosity of others, or unsettled by uncertainty of how to say thank you, or whether an especially generous gift comes with strings attached.</p> <p>This hour, unwrapping the tangled emotions behind giving — and getting.</p> <p><strong>Guests:</strong></p> <p><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Megan Costello</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Haddyr Copley-Woods</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">David Graeber</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Anand Giridharadas</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Elizabeth Dunn</a></p>
  • Is Anger Useful?
    <p>We’ve been taught to ignore, stifle, or just get over anger for many years — but what if we embraced it? It seems like most of us are feeling angry these days. But what if we took that emotion and instead of letting it eat us up, used it as fuel to do something, to actually help us feel better? Could anger be a useful emotion?</p> <p><strong>Guests:</strong></p> <p><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Rebecca Traister</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Cristen Conger</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Caroline Ervin</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Richard Davidson</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Alice Walker</a></p>
  • Religion Without Doctrine
    <p>What's the essence of religion? God? Scripture? Moral codes? Or is it really about something more mysterious and unexplainable?</p> <p>In this hour, we explore the roots of religion — religion before it's even called "religion." Because if you strip away all the doctrine, the dogma, the rules for how to live — what’s left are primal spiritual experiences. But what do they tell us about ourselves and our world?</p> <p><strong>Guests:</strong></p> <p><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Elizabeth Krohn</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Jeff Kripal</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Elaine Pagels</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Jericho Brown</a></p>
  • We've Had 30 Years Of Prozac. Why Are We Still Depressed? [Rebroadcast]
    <p>Modern anti-depressants have saved a lot of minds. And lives. But our 30-year experiment with modern anti-depressants is taking a toll. What have they done to our bodies? And how do we navigate that trade-off between body and mind? Is it clear that they even work?</p> <p>There are a lot of us who struggle with mood disorders or mental illness of one sort or another. If you do, we here at TTBOOK want you to know that you’re not alone. If you're looking for more in-depth knowledge on what you might be going through, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">the National Alliance on Mental Illness is an incredible resource.</a></p> <p>And if you just need something to elevate your spirit, check out the playlist that Charles made at the bottom of this page. It's packed with the music he listens to when he’s down and needs a lift. Not a fake happy song kind of lift – something honest but also hopeful.</p> <p><em>**WARNING: </em><em>The conversation with Lauren Slater in this show features frank discussion of depression and self-harm. The audio doesn't contain a trigger warning, but for listeners who may be sensitive to discussion of suicide, please consider listening to other interviews on the show separately, or skipping this episode.</em></p> <p><strong>Guests:</strong></p> <p><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Lauren Slater</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Charles Raison</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Anna Fels</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Jaime Lowe</a></p>
  • Writing Truth and Lies
    <p>We all tell stories about our lives: funny stories, happy stories, sad stories. But are they true stories? In an age of “alternative facts” and “fake news,” we’re all thinking harder about why truth matters – not just in politics, but in our personal lives. A biographer, a poet, a memoirist and a filmmaker describe the moral struggle and personal cost involved in telling not just the truth, but the whole truth.</p> <p>*<em>Guests: *</em><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Caroline Fraser</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Terese Marie Mailhot</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Karl Ove Knausgaard</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Errol Morris</a></p>
  • Building A Better Ballot Box
    <p>How do we put the fairness and the fun back in American elections? In this hour, we present a few simple ideas for how to remake the electoral process.</p> <p>Some are small tweaks — like mandatory voting — that could make the whole system run more smoothly: Others may sound a little crazy, like letting 10-year-olds vote. Or creating a marketplace where people buy, sell and trade their votes. Or making election day a national holiday, with parades. And cake.</p> <p>**Guests: **<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Carol Anderson</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Jason Brennan</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Pippa Norris</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">E. Glen Weyl</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Jonathan Bernstein</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Eric Liu</a></p>
  • Even Stranger Things [Rebroadcast]
    <p>Did you know that the U.S. military has a long history of working with psychics to try to discover enemy secrets? We examine this history and take a deep dive into the paranormal.</p> <p><strong>Guests:</strong></p> <p><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Joe McMoneagle</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Annie Jacobson</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Marge Bradley</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Paul Selig</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Tanya Luhrmann</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Michael Shermer</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Tiya Miles</a></p>
  • Discovering America's Black DNA [Rebroadcast]
    <p>DNA tests are uncovering mixed bloodlines. For African Americans, this can be emotionally-charged. What do you do when you find out one of your direct ancestors was a slave owner? Does it open the door to new conversations about racial justice?</p> <p><strong>Guests:</strong></p> <p><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Alex Gee</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Erin Hoag</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Annette Gordon-Reed</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Anita Foeman</a></p>
  • Pick Your Poison
    <p>Covert spies painting nerve agents on doorknobs? It's not the only way to poison someone. We hear stories of radioactive paint, formaldehyde-spiked baby formula, and a beautiful garden full of plants that could kill you.</p> <p>Guests: <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Deborah Blum</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Kathryn Harkup</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Amy Stewart</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Kate Moore</a></p>